A's lineup: Weeks dropped to nine-hole

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A's lineup: Weeks dropped to nine-hole

Programming note: Coverage of the A's and Blue Jays game begins on Comcast SportsNet California at 4 p.m. Stick around after the final out for A's Postgame Live!

The Oakland A's are a season-high seven games over .500 and are riding a five-game winning streak. Fresh off a home stand in which they went 5-1 against the top two teams in all of baseball, it is safe to say the A's are on a roll.

Oakland A's (51-44)

1. Coco Crisp (S) CF
2. Jonny Gomes (R) DH
3. Josh Reddick (L) RF
4. Yoenis Cespedes (R) LF
5. Chris Carter (R) 1B
6. Brandon Inge (R) 3B
7. Derek Norris (R) C
8. Brandon Hicks (R) SS
9. Jemile Weeks (S) 2B

Instant AnalysisJemile Weeks batting ninth is an interesting development. On this lineup analysis page I've often mentioned that Seth Smith or Jonny Gomes might be better suited batting second, it has yet to happen with Coco Crisp and Jemile Weeks both in the lineup. The rest of the lineup is pretty standard considering the Blue Jays have a left-handed starting pitcher on the mound. Top of the OrderCoco Crisp stole his 100th base with the A's on Sunday. He has really taken to the leadoff role since reclaiming that spot. Jonny Gomes isn't getting much playing time, but when he does, he performs. He is 7-for-13 since the All-Star break and has five homers and 13 RBI in his last 21 games. Heart of the OrderYoenis Cespedes is really emerging as a star in Major League Baseball. Many thought his learning curve would be much steeper than it has been. The Cuban cannon is hitting .299 this season and he is only going to get better as he continues to learn and adjust to the league. He is also batting .333 (23-for-69) with runners in scoring position, and eight of his 13 homers have come with runners on base. He is hitting .500 since the All-Star break.Bottom of the OrderWeeks has not started a game batting ninth this season. He batted there in 10 games in 2011 -- hitting .394. Weeks is batting .183 over his last 20 games. The sophomore slump has caught up to the speedy second baseman who was electric in his rookie year. As the ninth-place hitter, he can serve as a pseudo-leadoff. It is actually not a bad place for him to be batting in the lineup. It might work out well. Starting PitchersTravis Blackley (2-2, 2.86 ERA) will get the start for Oakland. Blackley has not allowed a home run in his last eight games (45.2 innings and 179 batters faced).Brett Cecil (2-2, 6.34 ERA) will be on the mound for the Jays. Cecil is 2-2 with a 2.79 ERA in his career vs. Oakland.

Toronto Blue Jays (48-47)

1. Brett Lawrie (R) 3B
2. Colby Rasmus (L) CF
3. Edwin Encarnacion (R) 1B
4. Adam Lind (L) DH
5. J.P. Arencibia (R) C
6. Kelly Johnson (L) 2B
7. Yunel Escobar (R) SS
8. Travis Snider (L) LF
9. Rajai Davis (R) RF

A's spring training Day 13: Gossett part of fifth starter mix

A's spring training Day 13: Gossett part of fifth starter mix

MESA, Ariz. — An unexpected opportunity came Daniel Gossett’s way Sunday, and the young right-hander took it in stride.

When the A’s adjusted their starting rotation, Kendall Graveman got bumped to Monday and Gossett learned he’d be taking the ball to start Sunday’s Cactus League home opener against the Los Angeles Angels.

“I’m here for what they need me for,” Gossett said. “So anything they need, gimme the ball.”

He spun two scoreless innings in a game Oakland lost 5-3 at Hohokam Stadium. A nice first impression for Gossett, indeed, but the truth is A’s officials were already quite familiar with him.

A second-round pick out of Clemson in 2014, Gossett impressed at three levels of the farm system in 2016, beginning the year with Single-A Stockton and finishing it with Triple-A Nashville.

This is his first big league camp, and manager Bob Melvin even mentioned Gossett as being part of the fifth starter conversation.

“He impressed everybody in the organization last year, so when talking about that fifth spot, who knows?” Melvin said before the game.

The only blemishes on Gossett’s day were the pair of walks he issued. After walking Jefrey Marte to lead off the second, he got a lift from his catcher, as Josh Phegley fired a strike to second to nail Marte trying to steal.

“A pitcher’s best friend, I guess,” Gossett said. He went 10-6 with a 2.69 ERA across 27 starts at all three levels of the minors last year, and his 151 strikeouts led the A’s farm system. Gossett’s fastball ranges anywhere from 90-95 on the gun. He throws a changeup that gets the most swings and misses, plus a slider and curve.

Grady Fuson, an A’s special assistant to the general manager, liked the adjustments he saw with Gossett over the course of last season.

“He’s a super kid, a grinder,” Fuson said over the winter. “He’s a guy that hadn’t struck many guys out and had been very hittable in the strike zone. (In 2016), he started executing to different parts of the zone that limits the hard contact.”

CAMP BATTLE: Alejandro De Aza sparked the A’s first rally in the third Sunday with a triple, then scored on Mark Canha’s double. With Jake Smolinski sidelined currently by a shoulder issue, it’s a good time for De Aza, a non-roster invitee to camp, to make his mark. The door could be open for him to make a push to make the roster as a fifth outfielder.

“He’s an interesting guy,” Melvin said of the nine-year veteran. “He knows how to play the game, he can play all three outfield spots. We’ve seen him before when he’s given us trouble, too, with the White Sox.”

Another contender for a reserve outfield spot is Jaycob Brugman, who has yet to crack the majors but is already on the 40-man roster. He singled home a run in the seventh. Like De Aza and Smolinski, Brugman can play center field, and it stands to reason the A’s will want to carry someone who can back up Rajai Davis at that position.

NOTEWORTHY: Phegley admitted to some butterflies before getting behind the plate for his first game since July, when a right knee injury wiped out the rest of his season.

But he looked good springing up to nail Marte on the second-inning steal attempt. The A’s are counting on Phegley returning to his role as the right-handed hitting platoon partner with Stephen Vogt behind the plate.

STOCK RISING: Melvin was impressed, and entertained, by the first look he got at reliever Simon Castro on Saturday against the Chicago Cubs. Castro retired Kris Bryant to strand a runner at third, the only hitter he faced. But it was what happened before the at-bat that caught Melvin’s attention.

“When he came to the mound he was pretty vocal,” Melvin noted. “He was fired up, telling the guys ‘Let’s go!’ I haven’t heard that too many times out of pitchers, let alone in spring training. So he impressed me with his eagerness to pitch.”

FAMILIAR FACES: Campy Campaneris and Blue Moon Odom each threw out ceremonial first pitches before Sunday’s exhibition home opener, which drew a smallish crowd of 4,072.

A’s reliever, movie buff Axford makes 2017 Oscars predictions

A’s reliever, movie buff Axford makes 2017 Oscars predictions

Update: Axford finished the night correctly predicting 19 of 24 Oscars this year.

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A's reliever John Axford is not your casual movie fan. 

Axford majored in Film at Notre Dame and has a proven track record when it comes to the biggest night for movies. 

The last two years, Axford correctly predicted 17 of 24 winners for the Academy Awards. In 2014, Axford went a perfect 18-of-18 with his predictions. 

On Saturday, Axford offered 24 predictions for the 2017 Oscars. 

Axford is a clear believer in La La Land, choosing the film for eights Oscars, after winning a record-breaking seven Golden Globes. 

Will he go a perfect 24-for-24 this year?